Alternate title: “Why you and your friends should read scriptures together.”
*”Friends” can be replaced with “lover,” “siblings,” “family,” or “split personalities.”
As a child of the digital age, I am trained to skim information quickly, consume and regurgitate what is important, and think deeply about little of it.
This strategy is amazingly effective when scanning for search results online (although increasing less effective as search algorithms support natural language searching more and more), but this strategy doesn’t really work she reading the scriptures.
I was blessed a few weeks ago to spend most evenings reading scriptures with a close friend. As we read aloud, my natural inclinations to skip over unimportant things was halted. I had to both see and hear every word. By trading sets of verses we read, I had time to back away from what I would normally quickly pass by and think about the meanings. I actually had time to apply the things we read to myself.
I hadn’t had that experience before–a bit while i was a missionary in Toronto, but that frenetic pace still kept my brain pretty wired. It was also the first time I’d ever had someone really pray for me. I’ve had people pray for me of course, but often I’m not privy to that prayer. Those prayers were very helpful, and some of them remain etched in my mind because they were needed at that moment.
I’ve tried to have the “slow down and think” scripture studies before. I’ve tried to read aloud to myself to force thought and slow down. But reading aloud takes more thinking power so there isn’t enough processing power.
But today I succeeded. For four brief verses, I succeeded in slowing down enough to realize this one story (and most of the stories, if I will let them) from Jesus’ life applies to me right now:
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
I am both the ship and the men in it. I am tossed about, buffeted by many things. I want to have faith, but often the storm seems to great to overcome. Often I cannot see the Savior by my side because the storm is too loud and violent around me.
“Child,” He says, “focus on me and the storm will abate.”
He calls me to action. He asks for faith in times of intense difficulty. He asks me to do only the things He asks me to do, and not worry about judging myself by any other yardstick, except the things He asks.
That is where I must place my focus. It’s nice to be successful in the eyes of your friends and society at large. But that success does not matter. Only accomplishing His will does.
So read with a friend. Slow things down, especially if you have troubles with that on your own. Doing spiritual things with others draws you intensely more close incredibly more quickly than you expect.